January 30, 2017 09:00 AM
Austria’s Erste Bank und Sparkassen has provided the latest sign that face-to-face customer service in the retail banking industry is moving away from the branch and towards mobile and video technology.
The Vienna-based bank is now giving customers the option to open an account via video chat. It made the announcement just a few weeks after the Austrian Financial Market Authority approved video-based online identification.
New customers now require only a government-issued photo ID and a computer or mobile device to open an account with Erste Bank.
The process begins with the individual uploading the photograph from their passport, national ID card or driver’s license, which is automatically transferred to the relevant bank form.
They then add their personal data and select their preferred branch using geolocation technology, before identifying themselves via a video call with a bank employee. This identification process is enabled by the IDnow Video-Ident solution.
Erste Bank is the first large Austrian bank to offer this option to customers. It said the market is “ripe for online video identification”, with figures showing a 40 percent increase in online current account openings with the company last year.
Thomas Schaufler, chief retail officer at the bank, said: “Our introduction of online video identification also eliminates what had previously been a significant competitive advantage for fintech companies.”
The company noted that countries like Germany have already offered this procedure for some time.
Spanish bank BBVA announced in November last year that it was launching ‘online onboarding’ via mobile, becoming the first financial institution in Spain to do so.
In Europe at least, it seems clear that the retail banking industry is focused on enabling maximum convenience and customer engagement via video technology and the mobile channel.
Over the coming years, we will get a clearer idea of whether these kinds of innovations could one day replace the branch altogether, or if there will always be a place in the industry for high-street banking.